Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some Climate Facts

From Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

  • Only 39 out of every 100,000 molecules of air are CO2, and only about 5 percent of CO2 is man-made. Furthermore, it takes 5 years to go from 39 molecules of CO2 to 40 molecules.
  • Nature consumes about 50 percent of our CO2 emissions.
  • Some 90-95 percent of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor and clouds.

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla estimates that wind can only provide 20 percent of our electricity.

Vinod Khosla, a longtime Silicon Valley proponent of green energy, sees billionaire T. Boone Pickens’ plan to wean the United States from oil by converting cars to natural gas as a no-go.

Oilman Pickens has put together an alternative energy plan that includes massive buildouts of wind farms from Texas up through the middle of the continental United States and would turn the country’s gasoline-guzzling auto fleet to natural gas, a fuel that is plentiful domestically and cleaner as well.

“Running cars on natural gas is a dead-end street,” Khoslsa [sic] said at the Reuters Global Environment Summit in San Francisco, adding that the reduction in carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas seen warming the planet, would not be enough — only about 20 percent or so.

“We make all this infrastructure change, and it doesn’t let us get to 40 percent or 60 percent or 80 percent. You want technologies that get to 20 percent and then keep on going, and that’s where the Pickens natural-gas cars fail.”

Khosla, a venture capitalist known for his early interest in alternative energy technology, argued that Pickens’ focus on wind power was good, but not enough, since wind could only provide about 20 percent of U.S. electricity. “What about the remaining 80 percent?” he asked at the Reuters Global Environment Summit in San Francisco.

Khosla said Pickens’ focus on building new transmission lines was very important, because it cuts the barrier to new technologies competing with coal.

Desert solar farms and windmills in barren wind-swept mesas frequently are far from transmission lines that carry electricity to densely populated towns and cities, for instance.

“Transmission lines in the Pickens plan are a good idea. getting more wind on, I’m all for.”

The EU Is Struggling to Deliver on Its Kyoto Promises [Greg Pollowitz]

Shocking, I know. The Economist:

JUST 18 months ago the European Union promised to save the world from climate change. A final plan to deliver on those promises must be finished soon. But it is in deep trouble.

The conclusions of the March 2007 summit proclaiming the EU’s “leading role” on climate change make for wistful reading today. They begin “Europe is currently enjoying an economic upswing,” and add that growth forecasts are “positive”. Back in that long-lost golden age, the EU’s leaders were in heroic mood. They offered binding promises known as the 20/20/20 pledges. By the year 2020, they would cut Europe’s carbon emissions by at least a fifth over 1990 levels; derive 20% of all energy from renewable sources; and make energy-efficiency savings of 20%.

The heroic mood is gone now. In March 2007 Angela Merkel, the German chancellor and chairman of the summit, was a green champion. Today she sounds like a lobbyist for German business, listing the industries that must be shielded from the full costs of her package. In truth, almost every country has found reasons why the climate-change promises may be impossible to meet in their current form. Britain is gloomy about its renewable-energy targets. Ireland says its farmers must be protected (grass-fed Irish cows emit a lot of methane).

The rest here.

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